The first session of the
106th Nebraska Legislature
is in its eighth week. At this point in the 90-day first session, the full legislative body meets for floor debate in the mornings and continues with committee hearings in the afternoons.
Senators introduced 739 bills this session, each of which was referred to a committee to receive a public hearing.
Committees hearing bills pertinent to early childhood include:
- Health and Human Services, Senator Sara Howard, Chair
- Education, Senator Mike Groene, Chair
- Appropriations, Senator John Stinner, Chair
- Urban Affairs, Senator Justin Wayne, Chair
- Revenue, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Chair
- Business and Labor, Senator Matt Hansen, Chair
Committee hearings will conclude in March and full-day floor debate is set to begin April 2.
First Five Nebraska has testified on several early childhood bills to date
offers cost efficiencies for state government and child care providers
. In 2017, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services staff made more than 6,000 visits to child care providers, the majority of which involved manually checking paper copies of training credentials to ensure child care staff met licensure requirements. Integrating the online Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System (NECPRS) into this process offers a more efficient alternative for capturing this information. We worked with
Senator Tom Briese
to craft this bill, and appreciate his leadership in streamlining a burdensome system. With amendments, LB590 advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee and is on General File, the first round of floor debate.
LB266 widens access to tax credits for early childhood professionals
The School Readiness Tax Credit Act of 2016 created two types of credits to incentivize child care professionals to grow the quality of their programs and professional credentials. After passage, it became clear that limitations in the statutory language prevented self-employed child care providers and programs classified as S-Corporations from receiving the credits. This bill clarifies the language to remove these barriers. Thank you to
Senator Brett Lindstrom
for working with us on this bill to
allow more early child care professionals to take advantage of the tax credit.
LB266 is currently in the Revenue Committee.
redefines terms under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act to include early childhood infrastructure development and early childhood care and education programs for certain cities and villages
. This bill would create another funding pathway for developing early childhood infrastructure by allowing communities to direct some of their local Option Municipal Development Funds (LB480) to begin or expand early child care and learning programs. The bill is on Select File, the second round of floor debate.
LB459 changes criminal background checks under the Child Care Licensing Act
LB459 requires child care operators and their staff to participate in a criminal history record check as part of the child care licensing process.
It also requires a record check at least once during a five-year period and submission of fingerprints to the state patrol. Passing this bill would move Nebraska toward compliance with federal regulations; failure to do so could cost our state a 5% penalty. The bill is in the Health and Human Services Committee.
changes provisions relating to a determination of ongoing eligibility for a child care subsidy (graduated phaseout compliance).
LB341 implements a graduated phaseout for child care assistance, removing the 24-month maximum for transitional care assistance, and changes the income level at which parents lose transitional child care assistance within an eligibility year. LB341 is currently in the Health and Human Services Committee.
provides for an early childhood element in a comprehensive plan developed by a city. LB66 would require cities to assess the number of quality licensed early childhood education programs and evaluate the availability and utilization of licensed child care providers as part of their comprehensive plans. Strengthening our early childhood infrastructure in communities can make it possible for more parents to fully participate in the workforce. LB66 advanced out of the Urban Affairs Committee, but failed on General File.